What are you most looking forward to? What makes you think, “I can’t wait until THAT happens,” when all the work and pain and patience you’re putting in now will be totally worth it?
As a kid, maybe it was that summer trip to Disneyland, or Christmas morning. As a college student, maybe it was finally being done with studying and getting a real job that paid real money. As a young adult, maybe it’s getting married (or just finding a date), or paying off debt, or getting a six-pack, or traveling the world, or getting that promotion at work. Whatever your answer is, I’m guessing that “sitting in a boring church service for ever and ever” didn’t make your list. More on that in a bit.
Did the thought, “heaven is the thing I’m most looking forward to” even cross your mind?
Last Tuesday at the Porch, we talked about the answer to a really big question – what is wrong with the world? – and unpacked how the source of our greatest hope is the resurrection. And not just the resurrection of Jesus, which has already happened, but the coming resurrection of all who have trusted Christ, and the restoration of all creation. That’s what heaven ultimately is. It will be the best thing to ever happen, and will make any suffering on earth not even worth talking about in comparison. It’s the hope that keeps us going while we wait, even when life on earth is really hard.
But what do you think heaven will be like? Are you excited about it? Does it make your waiting worth it? Or do you think it’s going to feel like a boring church service that never ends, or maybe a cloud-filled place with a lot of pastels and plenty of time to work on your harp skills? That doesn’t sound like something to look forward to. Thankfully, that’s not heaven.
One of my favorite books I’ve read in the past year is Heaven by Randy Alcorn. He basically takes everything that the Bible says about heaven and puts it into one place, laying out how God describes heaven in an easy-to-understand way. It. Is. Going. To. Be. Amazing. Trust me. Or really, trust God.
The book talks about four of the most common misunderstandings about heaven that can keep people from getting excited about it while they’re on earth. All of these are thoughts that I’ve had myself at one point in time, and it’s good to dispel the myths with truth.
Common misunderstandings of heaven:
Myth: The present heaven, where Christians go when they die now, is the same place we will live forever. The truth is that Christians who have died are currently in heaven with Christ, but they are looking forward to Christ’s return to earth, thephysical resurrection of all Christians, and the creation of the new heavens and new earth where we will live forever.
Myth: Physical things are inherently bad, and God’s plan is to bring our spirits to heaven to live without bodies. The truth is that God originally created the physical world and called it very good, and He has never given up His original plan to have perfect human beings rule the physical earth for His glory. The new earth will be perfect, with no more pain or suffering. Our physical bodies will be transformed to be like Jesus’ glorified (physical) body.
Myth: There will be nothing to do in heaven, and it will be boring, predictable, and without adventure, discovery, or progress. The truth is that it has nothing to do with clouds and harps, and everything to do with an eternity of exciting learning and discovery and enjoyment of God and His new creation.
Myth: We’ll be somehow absorbed into God and lose our individual identities. The truth is that in the resurrection we’ll keep our current identities and be forever re-established as individuals. We’ll be able to recognize our loved ones, and can anticipate being reunited with them.
So in summary – on the new earth we’ll be a perfect physical version of our real selves, spending time with God face-to-face, enjoying and discovering perfect restored physical creation, with our believing loved ones and the rest of God’s people…forever. Sign me up for that! No matter what happens now, it will be worth it to get to spend the rest of the rest with God.
A.W. Tozer said, “When the followers of Jesus Christ lose their interest in heaven they will no longer be happy Christians, and when they are no longer happy Christians they cannot be a powerful force in a sad and sinful world.”
As Christians we should be PUMPED about heaven, and it should make all the difference in how we view our time on earth. It should give us the hope to endure any kind of suffering with joy, and it should give us the drive to share the gospel of Jesus as the only way to heaven with everyone we meet.
How do you view heaven? And how does it impact the way you live?
What does the Bible say about heaven?